This is Foodie’s eighth year shining a spotlight on the wonderful work of the F&B industry in Hong Kong. We like to think of the entire run-up to the most delectable awards of the year as a celebration of the entire industry, with our front runners all getting a spike of excitement from the loyal diners putting their favourite people and places forward during the voting months – appreciating what the chefs, front of house, kitchen and bar staff and all those behind the scenes do to ensure that we are all exceptionally well fed and watered. From killer cocktails and rad vibes, to kitchen kingpins and food innovators, to hidden gems and mega-fine meals, here are the hotspots that are worth the hype:
This neo-Parisian eatery just cannot stop winning awards this year! BELON (check out their brunch) is the people’s favourite, hot on the heels of earning esteem as the highest climber at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019, as well as gaining a Michelin star. BELON is helmed by Chef Daniel Calvert, who keeps his manipulation of ingredients to a minimum with well-executed basics made from scratch, local produce utilised at every opportunity and a fine selection of natural wines.
41 Elgin Street, SoHo, Central, 2152 2872, book online
Awash in muted pink hues and natural wood tones, Arbor is not only a feast for the eyes but also for the palate. Renowned for his delicate and innovative flavour pairings using French techniques and premium Japanese ingredients, Chef Eric Räty’s unique culinary narratives quickly won the restaurant its first Michelin star in the 2019 guide. A regular roster of world-class chef collaborations adds to the rich tapestry of flavours.
25/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 3185 8388, book online
Best New Restaurant
Red Sauce Hospitality, the group behind some of this city’s favourite go-to places (like Posto Pubblico and Fini’s), can clearly do no wrong as their newest spot is all kinds of right. Franks debuted with bold and familiar Italian-American dishes, along with the friendliness of hanging at a mate’s, jazz nights to tap your toes to and great cocktails to keep you sipping all night long.
79 Wyndham Street, Central, 2320 0858
The laid-back sibling to British chef Simon Rogan’s chef’s table Aulis, we were bowled over by our bespoke farm-to-table dining experience at Roganic, a Michelin-starred London import. Even more than the exciting seasonal dishes, the prices of the tasting menus, usually far higher in Hong Kong, were what most impressed us – starting from at $680 – a fine-dining steal.
UG/F, Sino Plaza, 255 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, 2817 8383, book online
Best New Bar
This kitschy-cool bar within Eaton hotel features live music and a music room within its playful and futuristic interiors. A tremendous terrace and some pretty avant-garde cocktails solidify all the makings for an adventurous evening out, particularly if you want to channel your own enfant terrible vibes.
4/F, Eaton, Hong Kong, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan, 2782 1818
Perhaps it’s a crazy name that makes a bar, and perhaps that’s part of what makes Hugger Mugger so great for us. We love bringing a word back from oblivion, and this British salon does just that whilst celebrating Britain’s cultural legends by naming cocktails after them and infusing their spirit into each drink. You can sip on a Shakespeare or a Fleming in surreptitious surroundings right in the heart of the city (or right below it, anyway).
Basement, 43–55 Wyndham Street, Central, 2362 8988
Chef of the Year
A native of Calcutta, Palash Mitra’s culinary career was sparked by the home-cooked meals by his mother and grandmother. After studying at the Swiss Asian School of Hotel Management in India, he sharpened his skills at a number of refined kitchens in his home country before moving to Hong Kong in 2005 as the sous-chef at fine-dining Indian restaurant Veda. From there, he moved to London to join the team at The Cinnamon Club and subsequently served as the head chef at Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London and Michelin-starred Gymkhana in Mayfair. In 2017, he returned to Hong Kong as the head chef of Black Sheep Restaurants’ New Punjab Club, winning the restaurant its first Michelin star in the 2019 guide.
A Foodie Forks mainstay, Shane Osborn’s Arcane was a past Best Restaurant winner, and in 2017, the chef took home a Food Hero gong. This past year has seen Chef Osborn rising even further in the ranks with his starring role on Netflix’s The Final Table, a culinary competition show featuring 12 top chefs from around the world. He will soon be launching contemporary eatery Cornerstone, which focuses on the chef’s love of local, seasonal produce and his commitment to championing the environment.
Igloo Dessert Bar
It must have been the White Rabbit gelato that won your hearts, but the votes poured in as fast as the gelato flows out of this little ice-cream shop. The mixture of nostalgia and creamy frozen dessert proved to be too much for your taste buds, and your votes exploded to thank Igloo for this clever combination. What’s next? Dragon Beard gelato? Haw Flakes sorbet? Dare we dream…
Shop C, Pier 7, Star Ferry, Central, 2656 3318
The scents wafting from tiny takeaway-only bakery Plumcot in Tai Hang get us every time. Pastry chefs Camille and Dominique craft arguably the best croissants in the 852, and their unique artisanal ice cream – with flavours like their signature plumcot and blue cheese – is heaven in a cup.
10A Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang, 2573 6293
NOC Coffee Co
With minimalist white interiors and sacks of coffee beans beside pristine roasters, NOC definitely makes a lasting impression. Co-founded by Hong Kong Barista Champion Chan Chak Sum, NOC – an acronym for “not only coffee” – offers a hearty list of casual eats alongside some seriously good coffee. The grassroots Hong Kong brand has expanded to six shops and is now looking to grow its network of good taste in China and South Korea.
Six branches around town; click here for locations
This Aussie-style neighbourhood café has recently opened another branch in Tai Hang to support the popularity of its SoHo original, which boasts regular weekday morning (from 6am!) queues despite the uphill slog to get there. We come for the chilled vibe and awesome avo toast and the deadly cookies with a Redback chaser.
SoHo: 38 Peel Street, 5503 6880
Tai Hang: 1 Lily Street, 5331 5205
Best Green Eats
It’s not hard to see why this pioneering zero-waste restaurant wins your votes year on year, although we are incredibly encouraged by the number of contenders nipping at this pacesetter’s heels this time round. These new places are following MANA!’s lead with its integrated waste and recycling system that includes turning its serveware into soil and a fully plant-based menu that continues to flourish and inspire.
92 Wellington Street, Central, 2851 1611
Hong Kong’s first vegetarian flagship hotel restaurant – at Ovolo Central – Australian chef Hetty McKinnon’s VEDA has become the be-all and end-all of plant-based dining for us. Showcasing global flavours, the healthy, hearty dishes celebrate veg in all their glory, leading the way for the future of food.
Ovolo Central, 2 Arbuthnot Road, Central, 3755 3067, book online
This category was really anyone’s guess in the early stages, with a handful of votes trickling in for a plethora of vastly different unsung places. This small, authentic Mediterranean eatery is the one that came out on top, and we cannot wait to get there to check it out. Lamees has been open for just over a year, serving up dishes like its signature flatbreads with za’atar, decadent dips, lamb spare ribs, Spanish octopus and tomahawk steak, and it’s clearly won over your taste buds.
145 Pak Tai Street, To Kwa Wan, 9181 9600
The Spice House
For an authentic fix of Thai street food, get yourself over to The Spice House. With two locations in Wanchai, these no-frills eateries are light on the wallet and big on flavour. We go frequently (probably too frequently) for the boat noodles and Chiang Mai sour sausages, all washed down with creamy, cold cups of fragrant milk tea.
35 Amoy Street, Wanchai, 2804 2522
2/F, Linway Court, 69–71 Stone Nullah Lane, Wanchai, 2591 4741
Tom Burney is someone who is near and dear to our hearts here at Foodie. Whether it’s all our championing of this inspiring chef from Invisible Kitchen that has brought him in front of your eyes and translated into your votes, or you found him on your own, we are thrilled that you think as much of him as we do. He has always sourced purely sustainable seafood and local produce, carbonates, filters and bottles his water in-house, grows his own microgreens and offers healthy, fresh and unprocessed foods. His future-forward canapés highlight sustainability, green options and plant-based alternatives (balanced with carefully sourced meaty ones), progressing consciously into the future of food. This is a chef who deserves to be highlighted for the innovative, mindful and delicious creative masterpieces he’s devising that you should be tasting.
Back in 2013, Locofama made a massive impact on Hong Kong with its health-focused comfort food popularising local ingredients back at a time when many were worried about what could be grown here. Larry Tang proved that delicious produce is available right here in the city. Along with Sohofama, the focus at Locofama is on shining a spotlight on the work of Hong Kong farmers and being a community-centrric restaurant bringing people together to eat wholesome, locally grown, tasty dishes. This humble hero is an ongoing trailblazer showing the right way to eat and think about food. It’s not always the new kids on the block who should be getting the spotlight – sometimes it’s the ones who have always been doing what we should all be doing.
Read Dishtag's January interview with Larry Tang.
Most Inspiring Initiative
Last Straw Movement
Two brothers in Hong Kong started non-profit initiative Last Straw Movement two years ago on World Oceans Day in an aim to get restaurants and, in turn, customers to embrace paper straws. It was an easy change that anyone, whether environmentally minded or not, has eagerly embraced. The movement has made such an impact that even prolific plastic-providing places like McDonald’s have committed to stop sucking. That’s impressive! Even if the result is a drop in the bucket compared to what needs to be done, it’s got everyone thinking more about plastic and whether or not they want to drink through it.
hc:Bistro is both a relaxing eatery serving up light gourmet dishes and a social enterprise. Established by Hong Chi Association, the bistro provides a safe working environment for those with intellectual disabilities and offers training to help them to enter the workforce. It’s a great little spot for lunch or an afternoon snack set in a colonial prison hall. Cosy up with baked mac ’n’ cheese with slow-cooked beef cheek or a juicy burger or lighten up with pumpkin and quinoa salad. Or you can pop in for a mango and gelato napoleon alongside the friendly service and a big, ol’ cup of heritage.
Shop 14–G01, G/F, D Hall, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2884 0334
Foodie Lifetime Achievement Award
Gaylord Indian Restaurant
Our inaugural winner in this category is Gaylord in Tsim Sha Tsui, on the scene for nearly 50 years serving up authentic Indian cuisine to Hong Kong diners – surely equivalent to a century in HK’s notoriously fickle F&B scene. Gaylord’s cornerstones of quality and consistency with affordable prices have earned it a Michelin recommendation and a loyal following. The live traditional Indian music and old-school ambience add to its timeless charm, weaving its way into the fabric of the city.
1/F, Ashley Centre, 23–25 Ashley Road, TST, 2376 1001
For the full Foodie Forks 2019 coverage, read the magazine
A big thank you to our Foodie Forks 2018 partners: